McConnell blocks House bills to reopen government

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — McConnell, Kaine offer bill to raise tobacco buying age to 21 | Measles outbreak spreads to 24 states | Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad blitz to protect Dems MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday blocked two House-passed funding bills that would reopen the federal government.

Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOn The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by 'Obama-appointed judge' | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls Mnuchin signals administration won't comply with subpoena for Trump tax returns Dem lawmakers urge FCC to scrutinize broadcast workforce diversity MORE (D-Md.) and Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOn The Money: GOP angst grows over Trump's trade war | Trump promises help for 'Patriot Farmers' | Markets rebound | CBO founding director Alice Rivlin dies | Senate to vote on disaster aid bill next week Senators offer bipartisan retirement savings bill Top Finance Dem offers bill to help those repaying student loans save for retirement MORE (D-Md.), surrounded by roughly two dozen of their Senate Democratic colleagues, tried to get consent to bring up a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 8, as well as a separate package that would fund the remaining agencies without current-year appropriations through Sept. 30.

But McConnell objected, arguing they would be “show votes” and saying that he and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer wants investigation into Chinese-designed New York subway cars Getting serious about infrastructure Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act MORE (D-N.Y.) made an "explicit commitment" to avoid such votes.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The last thing we need to do right now is trade pointless — absolutely pointless — show votes back and forth across the aisle,” McConnell said. 

Under Senate rules, any senator can try to force a vote or pass a bill, but any one senator can block them.

The attempt by Democrats to pass the House bills comes as the partial government shutdown, which is impacting roughly a quarter of the federal government and is in its 20th day, is poised to break a record this weekend as the longest shutdown ever.

Talks between congressional leadership and President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE appear to have derailed, with Trump walking out of a White House meeting on Wednesday. 

McConnell has pledged that he will not bring up a bill that Trump doesn’t support.